Legal capacity

What do we mean by legal capacity?

Legal capacity refers to the legal rights and responsibilities of a person according to their age.

In Australia, we are considered to have the legal capacity of an adult at age 18.  This means that we have the legal rights of an adult including the right to live away from home, the right to marry, to consume alcohol and to vote.  With these rights comes responsibility.  For example, with the right to consume alcohol, we also have the responsibility not to serve alcohol to others who are not yet 18. People aged 18 and over are legally responsible for all their actions, and should they commit a crime they will be tried in an adult court and if found guilty sent to an adult prison.

However, whilst 18 is the age that we become an adult, other legal rights and responsibilities come to us earlier. 

Complete this legal capacity timeline found in this presentation legal capacity timeline

Watch this video clip containing a 13 minute interview with a Magistrate in the Children’s Court and raises issues around juvenile detention.  Barbara\’s Law and research the internet of go to your local library to access information on community services available to young persons who are at risk of committing crime. 

Being sent to prison or a juvenile detention centre is not a situation that any of these young people or their families and friends would want for them. 

Write to describe events that may have happened to these young people prior to completing these serious crimes.  Did they commit less serious crime prior to this?  Had they been warned or disciplined by the school system, parents or the police prior to these charges?  If they developed an alcohol or drug problem, who could they have gone to for help?  If they had been victims of domestic violence or other abuse, who could they have spoken to for help?


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